When coronavirus was still isolated to one country, when there were still no confirmed cases in the United States, when no schools had closed down, and when we still met for milk and crackers in the amphitheater, Tanishia Brown was preparing.
Ms. Brown, the Nurse Administrator at Ojai Valley School, works hard to remain OVS’s most knowledgeable resource on the virus. She is a steadfast voice advising the administration, and often does far more than just a job description.
“When we first started getting word of this back in January, she was regularly updating administration with the current situation,” said Head of School Craig Floyd. “But she was instrumental in getting information to families. And she’s been a critical, knowledgeable person within the administration to help make those tough decisions.”
For most, the COVID-19 Pandemic has meant isolation and downtime, but for Administrative Nurse Ms. Brown it has meant being an on-call expert and advisor to Ojai Valley School’s administration through a rapidly evolving health crisis.
“I’d say it’s half talking to doctors and nurses that are in the midst of it and us coming up with a plan and the other half is communicating with our administration,” Ms. Brown said of what her job has become.
Helping the administration to be as in tune as possible with the CDC and Ventura Public Health as well as other health care professionals in the area has become quite the task. But with years of experience and a plethora of contacts around the Ojai Valley, Ms. Brown has been a cautious expert, advising the administration to make tough decisions.
“To make that decision to close, there was an urgency in my voice saying ‘if we don’t close this is what could happen,’” Ms. Brown said.
Apart from advising the administration Ms. Brown has spent much of her time writing extensive reports and plans for the faculty. She has spent hours working to ensure accuracy and precaution in one of the toughest times this tried community has had to endure.
Because this crisis has been unfolding so rapidly, Ms. Brown has had to work rapidly to create plans that only last for a short period of time. These plans change and need to be re-written almost daily and have become an immense part of what it means to be a Nurse Administrator.
“It has been a rollercoaster,” fellow nurse Paloma Sandoval said. “But having her [Ms. Brown] as a leader provided a lot of reassurance.” In fact, Ms. Brown’s impact on the community is visible in her leadership among the nurses, her advice among the administration, and her cautious precedent for the community.
Ms. Brown was also among the first people in the OVS community to begin setting an example for how to social distance. It is partly because of her example that some members of the community began taking the necessary precautions seriously. Ms. Brown has been in her house since the beginning showing students and faculty alike the importance of staying home.
Ms. Brown has been in the spotlight as an advisor to the administration, an expert that cuts through the noise, as a planner in a crisis, as a caregiver during a pandemic, and as a teacher and example for all.
“From the beginning Tanishia did a really great job. You know, she’s been in sort of similar situations, so she’s definitely got it down more than me,” Ms. Sandoval said.
And her background certainly prepared her for a situation like the current one. She worked at hospitals in San Francisco and Arizona where her children Isaiah and current OVS senior Olivia were born. She then worked at Saint John’s Medical Center in Oxnard before working at high schools and summer camps. She has lent her talents not only to Ojai Valley School but also to other institutions in the Ojai Valley including The Thacher School and Camp Ramah.
In this crisis Ms. Brown has had to take into account not only the weight of the virus on OVS but also the entire community. Her job has expanded from keeping the school healthy to contributing in the massive effort it takes to keep the Ojai community healthy.
“You know, our school is such a huge part of the community, I actually have had doctors saying ‘what are you doing,’ keeping an eye on us, because we affect the community so much,” Ms. Brown said. “But I think that with the tools and data that we have the Ojai Valley community is doing the best we can do right now.”
But Ms. Brown’s desire to be a part of the progress continues to grow as she reads more and more.
“In terms of my career, do I want to go on the frontlines and work the ERs, work the clinics, work the floors? You know, if you look at the way we are handling it as a country… my fellow doctors and nurses don’t have enough protective gear to go out in the trenches,” Ms. Brown said. “There is a lot of conflict for us, and it’s like, what do you do?”
Wrestling with the will to be on those war-like front lines or staying home and being an indispensable part of the home front is an immense struggle that doctors and nurses around the world are grappling with. With the battles against the virus raging in neighboring counties, Ms. Brown, like many health care professionals, wants to do as much as she can but has to make sure she can be there for her own community.
“We are in this together,” Ms. Brown said with a gravity that cut through her normally cheery voice. “Everybody is a part of this, everybody is responsible for decreasing the spread of infection.”Share